Choosing a carpet cleaning company


Consumer Guide to Carpet Cleaning Companies

Hello!  I’m here today to provide consumer information about carpet cleaning and help consumers choose a carpet cleaning company that will satisfy their needs.

Reliable Carpet Care is certified by the I.I.C.R.C. in several areas of cleaning. We’ve been involved in the carpet cleaning business for 17 years (and counting) and in that time have learned that carpet cleaning is a subject of much confusion. In fact, people have so many misconceptions about carpet cleaning that we decided to offer this consumer message so when you select a carpet cleaning company, you can make an informed, intelligent decision.

In just a moment, we’ll share with you 6 costly misconceptions about carpet cleaning. Plus we’ll offer 4 recommendations, and give you some questions you should ask a carpet cleaner before you invite him to your home.

Consumer Misconception #1:

You should wait as long as possible before cleaning your carpet.

No. Dirt is an abrasive – like sandpaper. Every time you step on the carpet, you grind dirt into your carpet fibers. This cuts your carpet, just as if you had used a knife, causing it to wear out faster. A dirty carpet will not last nearly as long as a clean carpet. And while vacuuming helps — by itself, it’s simply not enough. The longer you wait to have your carpet cleaned, the more damage you do to your carpet and the faster it wears out. You may have also heard,” I had my carpet cleaned, and now it gets dirty twice as fast.” If this happens, quite simply, the work was performed improperly and residue was left in the carpet, or the stain resistant properties of the carpet were damaged. Both of these are the results of poorly-trained technicians.

Consumer Misconception #2:

The only reason to clean carpets is to get out dirt.

No. As you probably know, outdoor air contains pollens, fungus, bacteria, air pollution, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, — and hundreds of other chemicals. When you and your family members come into your home, you carry those pollens, bacteria, and chemicals in your hair and on your skin, clothing and shoes. Not surprisingly, all those chemicals, pollens and bacteria wind up — you guessed it — in your carpet.

If you have allergies, asthma, emphysema, or other breathing problems — one major source of your problem could be the pollens, fungus, dust mites, and chemicals in your carpet.

In addition, as you may know, tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemical compounds, 43 of them which cause cancer. And even if you don’t smoke, those chemicals get on your shoes, you track them into your home and you leave them in your carpet. If you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke and other allergens, you might find that you’ll breathe easier after you hire a company to get those harmful pollutants out of your carpet.

So in addition to getting rid of dirt, another important reason to clean your carpet is to get rid of pollens, fungus,, bacteria, dust mites, chemicals, and the tars and residue from tobacco smoke.

Consumer Misconception #3:

One method of carpet cleaning is as good as another.

Not true. You can choose from two primary methods: Dry Cleaning or Hot Water Extraction. First, I’ll explain dry cleaning. Many people believe that dry-cleaning your carpet is like dry-cleaning your clothing. This is not the case. All carpet cleaning methods use water in one form or another. Here are the three methods of dry-cleaning carpet.

When a carpet cleaner uses dry foam, he applies shampoo to your carpet, allows it to dry, and then sucks the dried shampoo into a vacuum. Can you imagine applying shampoo to your hair, allowing it to dry and then removing the shampoo from your head with a vacuum? This method can leave residue in your carpet, which leads to rapid resoiling and is one reason why dry-foam is not very effective.

The dry-chem method is similar to dry-foam. The major difference is that when dry-chem is used, the company sets a large cotton bonnet on your carpet. Using a machine, the bonnet spins from side to side, absorbing some of the dirt that’s in the carpet. After the bonnet is saturated with dirt, another cotton bonnet is applied. Bonnet cleaning is like trying to use a large towel to rub the dirt out of your carpet. This too can leave residue and like dry-foam, is not very effective.

The dry-compound method spreads an absorbent mixture that looks like wet sawdust all over your carpet. Then a machine brushes the mixture into the carpet, which in theory causes the dirt to absorb into the mixture. When the mixture has dried, a vacuum cleaner sucks the material out of the carpet. Because the carpet is not rinsed in any way, this method also is not very effective.

The second carpet cleaning method is called Hot-Water Extraction. This is a fancy way of saying that a hot water cleaning solution under high pressure is forced into the carpet and then sucked out of the carpet. This method is also referred to as steam cleaning even though steam may or may not be used.

Not surprisingly Shaw Industries, one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, recommends Hot-Water Extraction. This method cleans much better because a pre-treatment solution is applied to the carpet to emulsify soil and then agitated for maximum penetration. A rinse solution heated to a high temperature, then shoots into the carpet under high pressure — which further breaks up the dirt, bacteria, and pollens. Then the machine uses high suction to draw the dirt out of the carpet. This is the method my company uses.

No question, the most effective way to clean carpeting is with Hot-Water Extraction. It’s the most powerful cleaning method on the market and the only method that thoroughly cleans your carpet of dirt, harmful bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, and tobacco residue.

There are some small, portable extraction machines that you can rent at the supermarket, they do not heat the water. Machines that use cold or even warm water remove some of the dirt, but are not as effective.

Some people believe that hot water damages your carpet, but this isn’t true. Hot water, up to 150 degrees, will not damage your carpet. By washing and then rinsing your carpet with hot water, we clean your carpet completely — in the same way that the person who showers and then rinses off the dirt and soap will be much cleaner than the person who takes only a sponge bath.

Consumer Misconception #4:

Having the right equipment is all a company needs to clean your carpets properly.

Not true. Many companies own hot-water cleaners — but a large number of employees don’t know how to use them. You probably know someone who bought the newest computer on the market, but didn’t learn how to use it for a year or more. The same is true with carpet cleaning machines. The company may own good equipment, but the employees may not know how to use it correctly. This is powerful equipment, and in the wrong hands it can make quite a mess. This is one of the reasons why it’s important that you choose your carpet cleaner carefully.

The best carpet cleaning companies are those that have been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, known as the I.I.C.R.C. or more recently CleanTrust.  A carpet cleaning company cannot buy this certification. The carpet cleaner must earn this certification through study, experience, and the successful completion of formal, written examinations. Cleaners who are certified by the I.I.C.R.C. have, in effect, earned a degree in carpet cleaning.

Consumer Misconception #5:

The company that offers the lowest price is the company that you should hire.

Maybe — but not always. Here are two important points to consider.

Point #1

The price that you see offered may not be for the services you want performed. Before you select a company, decide what you want to accomplish. If you want the carpet cleaner to remove only some of the dirt, you can choose from hundreds of companies that use small shampooers or other cleaning methods. Or, you can even rent a machine and do the job yourself.

On the other hand, if you want your carpet thoroughly cleaned — if you want to remove the harmful dirt, bacteria, pollens, chemicals, and tobacco residues — then you need to hire a company that uses true Hot-Water Extraction. This is the only way to assure that your carpet remains healthy and free from dirt, disease-causing bacteria, and hurtful chemicals.

So remember that the price you see offered may not be for the services you want performed.

Point #2

The price you see advertised may not be the price you pay. Many homeowners have learned that the low price they saw advertised was not the amount they were charged.

And if you’ve ever hired a “cheap” carpet cleaner, you too may have been the victim of false or misleading advertising. You may have learned the hard way that some carpet cleaners offer a cheap price — usually between $3.95 and $9.95 per. room — and then pressure you into paying a lot more once they get inside your home. Some of them may even break the law by using illegal bait and switch tactics.

As in all businesses and professions, the carpet cleaning industry has its share of bad apples. I take no pleasure in telling you this, but some are unethical — and, sadly, a few are dishonest. By their misleading advertising and false promises, they cast a dark shadow on our entire industry. Then you’ll find other carpet cleaners, sincere professionals who work hard to earn your trust.

As one way of improving our profession, we’ve dedicated our business to educating the public. The only way you can make an intelligent decision is to have all the facts you need. This is why we have posted this message.

Consumer Misconception #6:

Any honest carpet cleaning company should be able to give you an exact quote over the phone.

I wish this were true, but it isn’t. Consumers often think that if they want to clean four rooms and the price is $50 per room, then the price will be $200. But this isn’t always true.

First, honest, reputable carpet cleaning companies usually price carpet cleaning by the square foot. So if you’d like me to tell you the exact cost of cleaning your carpet, I need to know the number of square feet that you want cleaned, plus any stairs, landings, etc.

You’ll be glad to know that the carpet area to be cleaned is not nearly as great as most people think. For example, if you want your entire home cleaned and your home is 2000 square feet, the amount of carpeting to be cleaned might be only 1200 square feet. This is because most home measurements are outdoor measurements, then we deduct the area taken up by walls, room dividers and the like. The result is that the actual area to be cleaned is usually only about 60% of the square footage of the home.

If you’re thinking about having your carpets cleaned, I offer these recommendations.

Recommendation #1

Make a commitment to yourself to get your carpets cleaned. The longer they remain dirty, the sooner they will wear out. Plus the longer you have to breathe all the pollens, fungus, chemicals, and dust mites that live and get trapped in your carpet.

Recommendation #2

Consider your objectives. Do you want only some of the dirt removed, something you could do with a rented machine. Or do you want all the dirt along with bacteria, fungus, and chemicals removed, which will require Hot-Water extraction done properly. Do you want to work with an honest, reputable company, or are you willing to risk working with the company that offers you the lowest price, knowing that company might not be in business tomorrow.

Recommendation #3

Ask questions. The way you learn about a company is to ask specific questions and listen carefully to the answers. Here are some questions we suggest you ask:

  1. What type of carpet cleaning method do you recommend?
  2. What type of equipment do you use to clean carpet?
  3. Are you licensed and insured?
  4. Are you certified by the I.I.C.R.C.?

By following these three recommendations, you’ll gain all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision. If you want a quick, cheap carpet cleaning job, many companies in the phone book or online can help you. Or you can rent a shampooer and do the job yourself.

But if you want your carpet to be completely and thoroughly cleaned, removing the dirt, bacteria, fungus, chemicals, pollens, and tobacco residues, then I invite you to call us.  We’d be happy to answer your questions, and give you a free quotation, without obligation of any kind.  Call us at (416) 461-4006 during normal office hours.

Here’s one last point: I know that many consumers are skeptical about carpet cleaning companies. We cannot blame them.  So as extra assurance, we invite you to read our customer reviews on Google, Yelp and Homestars, or replicated on our website.  In case you weren’t aware, businesses cannot request nor pay to alter or remove any customer reviews. Customer reviews are taken very seriously and each review goes under comprehensive verification and examination to avoid fraudulent/fake reviews.

Thank you for your kind attention.  We hope you found this consumer information helpful. If you have any questions or comments, or if you’d like to schedule a carpet cleaning in your own home, please call us at 416-461-4006.